GOP expands probe of Sebelius fundraising

Republican leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee solicited information from two more companies Tuesday after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusTrump administration's reforms could make welfare work again Pro-dependency advocates miss the mark in attacking Kansas welfare reform Pence breaks tie to confirm Trump's pick for religious ambassador MORE said she contacted them with information about a pro-ObamaCare group.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and his deputies have been investigating reports that Sebelius solicited donations from several major healthcare players on behalf of Enroll America, a group that will encourage consumers to take advantage of ObamaCare's coverage options.

Sebelius testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday that she asked two organizations for donations — the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block — but reached out to three more to describe Enroll America's efforts. Those three groups were Ascension Health, Johnson & Johnson and Kaiser Permanente.

Energy and Commerce had already written to Kaiser Permanente, but the committee reached out Tuesday to Johnson & Johnson and Ascension Health, a Catholic healthcare system, to ask about their interactions with Sebelius.

The letters ask the groups to summarize their contact with Sebelius, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department, Enroll America and former White House deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle.

Republicans say Sebelius's solicitations are illegal and unethical. HHS has defended her actions, saying they have several precedents in the George W. Bush administration.

Tuesday's letters bring the total number of enterprises contacted by Energy and Commerce in the probe to 17.